Japan sinks into recession – but there is more to the story than the mainstream narrative would care to admit
Last week (February 15, 2024), the Japanese Cabinet Office released the latest national accounts estimates…
This Tuesday report will provide some insights into life in Kyoto for a westerner in the age of Covid. Today we discuss food and music.
The other night I did 2.5 hours of filming discussing the future of Japan and other matters with a colleague at Kyoto University.
The edited footage will be edited and packaged for screening at a later date and I will be sure to advertise it when and where it will be available.
After the discussion, we had dinner which was supplied to the filming location by a local Zen Buddhist caterer in Kyoto that specialises in – Shojin Ryori cuisine – and prepares it in the traditional way.
The hosts know I am a strict vegetarian and ‘put on a show’ for me.
This cuisine developed in the temples in the C7th and was refined further in the C13th.
It not only eschews any meat products but also avoids the use of garlic and onion, which suits me as I am allergic to garlic.
The food is based on the so-called ‘rule of five’ which means that:
… every meal offers five colors (green, yellow, red, black, and white) as well as five flavors (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami), which are drawn out naturally from the ingredients rather than added via additional flavorings.
There are also complex seasonal patterns in the choice of vegetables to provide warmth and cooling where appropriate.
Finally, the arrangements are very careful and all the parts of the vegetable that we would normally waste are used in accompanying soups etc.
A real treat in other words for those who are vegetarian and interested in sustainable eating.
Here is a photo of the table of serving trays that each of us received.
And a close up of my tray – beautifully presented and a real treat. It made the 2.5 hours of filming seem okay.
And I repeat my usual advocacy – if you claim to be environmentally aware and want to do something to save the planet then it is time to move to this type of diet and abandon all meat eating.
Even if you are not into animal rights – the climate reasons alone are sufficient.
What happens on a Saturday night in Kyoto when the work tools are put down?
We pick up some other work tools and play lock n loll of course – loud and brash.
And have fun!
First some linguistics.
I am getting to know my Japanese friends more and more, and, after all the formality and hierarchical (social) protocols are dispensed with and the bowing has stopped so we can look each other square in the eye, questions are asked.
Me: Why do Japanese people say ‘l’ when they mean ‘r’ when speaking English?
Japanese friend: Because our ‘r’ is sort of between the English ‘r’ and ‘l’ sound. We don’t have the English ‘r’ sound in our language.
Me: So this coming Saturday night?
Japanese friend: We will be playing some lock n loll.
This article from Scientific American (July 1, 2014) – How to Teach Old Ears New Tricks – is about cognition and why learning a foreign language is difficult for adults who have been listening to specific sounds for years.
And the principle applies to all languages not just Japanese or English.
I cannot tell the difference in Hindi, for example between the “four nearly identical sounding d‘s”
Anyway, on Saturday night the amps went up to 1970s volumes we played at when I was just starting out in bands – that is, loud.
If there was 11 on the amp dial we would have gone there.
Lots of overtone (nice word for distortion).
Punk body language.
And we locked.
I was the guest artist at one of the oldest and best live music venues – ‘live houses’ – in Kyoto last Saturday – the famous – Jittoku – in the Kamigyo Ward (not far West from the Imperial Garden and Palace complex).
It was an old sake brewery and the tables and chairs are recycled sake barrels.
Here is the view of the room from the stage (noting that since Covid they have erected plastic screens on all the tables and they restrict the number of people who can come in to a show).
For Saturday, I joined Kyoto band Kazuchika Misawa – with some of the best local players – for a night of lock n loll.
Here is the sign over the front door:
And here is the promotion for the night on the front door – very flattering really:
Warren Mosler is visiting us at present in Kyoto and he took this short footage.
We chose some old classics that most of us haven’t played in decades if ever and a friend loaned me his old Japanese built (which means good) Fender Telecaster.
I mainly use a – Fender Stratocaster – at home, which has more diversity I think, but the neck on the Tele is similar and the sound is definitely very bright and hot, particularly on the bridge pickup.
But I was grateful for the loan.
It was a great night.
I was very appreciative of the warm reception from my band members and the audience. A really informed (of music etc) audience for sure.
The promoter at Jittoku said that I can bring my Melbourne band to Japan next year for some shows. Not lock n loll but I will see.
Another week in Kyoto has passed.
Having a good time.
That is enough for today!
(c) Copyright 2022 William Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.